BWSL & CitCo reconcile garbage payments

The Belize City Council has reconciled the hiccup in payments for garbage collection, which prompted some 40 workers of Belize Waste Control Limited (BWCL) to picket the Council’s offices on Monday, November 12.
Belize City Mayor Darrel Bradley made a commitment to BWCL General Manager George Lamb on Wednesday, and before the end of the day BWCL’s garbage collection trucks were back on the street, collecting residential garbage, which had accumulated on the streets of Southside Belize City since the protest began on Monday.
The City Council (CITCO) responded to BWCL’s halt in garbage collection by putting its own clean-up crews out on the street, and had picked up 80% of the garbage on the city’s north side by day’s end Monday.
The clean-up crews worked on the city’s south side on Tuesday; but since the south side is a larger area; therefore, the work continued on Wednesday.
November is a relatively slow season for the City Council as tax revenue slows to a trickle during November each year, and the sanitation companies are aware of this, Bradley told The Reporter.
He said for this reason, the CITCO had come to an arrangement with the companies that if they fell behind in any payments during the month, they would double up on payments to make up for accumulated arrears, in December, January and February, when the revenues for renewal of trade licenses and property taxes start pouring in.
Bradley said he had spoken with BWCL owner Anthony Griffith about this issue at the beginning of the month, and had promised him three weeks payment by Friday, November 9.
In fact BWCL received two and half weeks payment last Friday, a $25,000 shortfall, but Bradley said he was unaware of the discrepancy in payment when the company’s workers unilaterally decided to protest on Monday.
The mayor admitted that upgrading the city infrastructure with the concrete paving of all major streets was more at the forefront of his agenda, but also noted that the contracts with the waste control companies are a significant burden for the city and they are unsustainable.
He said the council has to pay $133,000 each week to the two sanitation companies, $55,000 was to BWCL, a cost the council is seeking to defray by introducing a residential garbage fee.
He said the council can collect the garbage much more efficiently and cost-effectively with its own clean-up crews. He said the legally binding contacts with the companies was problem the Council had inherited, but which had become more problematic since 2008.
For their part BWCL owner Anthony Griffith said what was unsustainable was for them to continue operating at a loss, as he had had to take out a $85,000 loan to keep going. He said the council owed the company for 12 weeks, and the company had addressed letters to the council on the matter but had gotten no response.
As Lamb explained it, the company could not put its workers on the street to collect garbage knowing it would not have the money to pay them at the end of the week. The garbage trucks also run on fuel, and if the company could not pay its fuel supplier for fuel previously purchased on credit, it would have no fuel to put in the trucks’ empty tanks.

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